Author Topic: I Miss My Mom  (Read 184 times)

shw1993

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I Miss My Mom
« on: February 15, 2019, 05:30:24 PM »
Hi. I'm S, and my mom died of adenocarcinoma of the lung on January 11, 2019.

My mom was my first friend, my best friend, and my fiercest friend. She was my rock, my safe place, and called me on my crap when necessary. I feel very fortunate to have had a very close relationship with my mom, but she's gone, and it's not fair.

I'm 25. My mom was going to be 65 on March 6th. I always knew at the back of my mind that I would more than likely lose my parents before the rest of my peers simply because my parents were older when they had me, but I definitely didn't expect to lose my mom so soon.

I was raised an only child. I have an older half-brother on my dad's side. I was my mom's only baby. My parents started dating in 1980, got married in 1984, and had me in 1993. My mom wanted a baby so badly, and had pretty much given up on conceiving when she found out she was pregnant with me. I have always been so very loved and so very wanted by my parents.

My dad is grieving the love of his life. It's really hard to watch. I can't imagine the heartache he's going through. I'm married and have a four-year-old son. So, I'm watching my husband, my dad, and my son, the three most important people in my life, grieve my mom also. The hardest one is watching my son grieve his grandma. My son and my mom were really close.

My mom was diagnosed with lupus in 1999. It was well controlled and my mom sometimes referred to it as "in remission". I don't know a whole lot about lupus in general, but growing up it never seemed like a big deal, apart from when she was diagnosed: I remember that day vividly. My godmother picked me up from school that day. She took me to McDonald's and then we went to the hospital to see my mom. I was five.

In 2012, my mom was diagnosed with COPD as a result of smoking cigarettes for more than 30 years. My mom started smoking when she was about 17 (so around 1971-72) and "quit" for the last time in 2012, but still smoked occasionally. Over the decades she had quit for a few years and restarted a few times. She also used an e-cigarette off and on between 2014-2017.

My husband (then boyfriend) and I bought a house in 2017 and my son and I (son's bio-dad is not hubs) moved out of my parents' house. I got married in August of 2018. It was a great wedding and I have a lot of pictures of my mom from it... My dad told me recently that my mom knew something was wrong before my wedding but didn't want to go to the doctor because she hoped it was just that her COPD was getting worse, and she didn't want to know before my wedding if it was something worse. Instead of a traditional honeymoon, we chose to go on a family trip. My mom, my husband, my son, and my maternal aunts and uncle, and I. My dad didn't go because it was a cruise and he hates cruises. My mom had a hard time breathing on the cruise. She had her portable oxygen concentrator, but had a difficult time getting around and only got off the ship at one of the stops, and went back to the ship after about 20 minutes. I think the humidity and elevation was getting to her. We all had a great time on the cruise, even my mom, despite not really being able/willing to take part in the destination outings. I'm glad I'll have those last happy vacation memories with my mom.

On October 21 my mom was admitted to the hospital in my hometown. I live about an hour away, but take college classes at the community college in my hometown. October 22nd I had a class and went to the hospital afterward to see her. My mom looked nervous. I sat down and she said she had something to tell me: the doctors thought she had lung cancer. I cried for a couple seconds and pulled it together. That night my mom was transferred to a different hospital in the Presbyterian hospital system because the one in my hometown is brand new and did not have an ICU, oncologist, practically anything. They weren't prepared to handle a case like my mom's.

My mom was in and out of the hospital from October 21st until her death. They released her three times. In my opinion, they released her too early every time... the last time, she died... My mom received 1 1/2 rounds of radiation and one round of chemo total to treat her stage IV adenocarcinoma of the lung, which is actually one of the easier lung cancers to treat according to my internet research. The mass in her lung was 7cm in diameter. The cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, tailbone and thoracic spine, and left femur by the time she died. She stopped eating full meals in November during her first round of radiation. She was being treated at a hospital that's about 10 mi from my house, but over 60 from her house, so my parents stayed in our extra bedroom during the outpatient portion of her first radiation session. It was hard. My mom needed more care than I alone could give her, my husband works full time, and my dad had to split his time between my house and his house to care for their dog. My mom needed help walking to the bathroom, but I was unable to help her. She was about 150lbs and I am 90lbs soaking wet and not very strong at all. I tried my best to help her with what I could and to spend as much time with her as I could. But I was also very scared. My state has medical cannabis, and my mom had her medical card for years due to the lupus. Once, she took too high of a dose of medical marijuana tincture and was pretty much catatonic for two days. It scared me. I sat by her bed crying. She barely realized that I was there. I personally really don't like being stoned as it gives me horrible anxiety, so just imagining how she must have felt scared me, seeing her like that scared me, and it made it really hard for me to be okay with her continuing her medical cannabis. Don't get me wrong, I support medical (and recreational, for that matter) use of cannabis, but it was scary for me. But I know it helped her. It made the pain go away when oxycodone couldn't. In addition to all this, I was halfway through the toughest college semester I've heretofore experienced when she was diagnosed.

My mom called me on Monday January 7th from the hospital. She was excited to tell me that she was going to start chemo that day. She sounded great. She sounded strong, confident, and excited to start her treatment. For those who don't know, chemotherapy is infused either intravenously or through a port. My mom didn't have a port so they had to infuse her through her IV. The treatment consists of three bags of medicine. The first two went in fine. The third, for some reason, would not take. Her veins kept collapsing and they had to resume the following day.

The last time I saw my mom was Tuesday, January 8, 2019. I went to visit her in the hospital while my son was at school. As it was flu season, children under 14 weren't allowed in the patient rooms at the hospital, so I had to go alone. I didn't mind though, bringing a four-year-old to a hospital to visit someone is not a pleasant experience. She was lucid but started crying when I walked into her room. She stated she was having memory problems. The nurses wrote it off as "from the meds" (I think the cancer had metastasized to her brain, but there's no way to prove that as she was cremated). She asked the oncologist "how long do I have?" and his response was "people live through this", which is almost verbatim the answer the other oncologist gave when she asked "what's the prognosis?" at the beginning of November. We had a nice conversation, and I didn't want to leave, but I had to go pick up my son from school. I spoke to her on the phone on Wednesday and Thursday.

My husband took the day off from work on Friday. We dropped our son off at school in the morning, and as we were driving towards home I said, "hey, let's go visit my mom," but I changed my mind... I knew she was being released Friday, and I knew she had a radiation session scheduled early Friday, but didn't know exactly what time (not that they take them to it on time half the time anyways) and didn't want to be in the way or come at the wrong time.

My mom was released around 3-4 pm. My parents stopped by my house around 4:30 pm on their way home to grab a few things. It was supposed to snow, and my dad has trouble driving in the snow due to complications of glaucoma. Only my dad came in. He asked if they could stay the night because of the weather, and because my mom had to come back the following morning to get an injection that chemo patients need, but insurance wouldn't pay for as an in-patient treatment (which is stupid, and I absolutely hate the insurance industry for having rules like that). I said yes, then my dad realized that he did not have my mom's home oxygen concentrator with him. He went outside to ask my mom if she'd be willing to stay overnight with only her portable oxygen concentrator. My dad came back in and told me they had to go home because the charger for mom's portable concentrator was at home too. I said I understood and I loved them and said "drive safe, call me when you get home." I did not go outside to say hi to my mom. I didn't take the 30 seconds to walk 30 feet to see my mom and tell her that I love her.

Around 7:30, my dad called. I wasn't surprised that he called later than the usual travel time between our houses as it was supposed to snow. This is essentially how the conversation went:

Me: Hi Dad, you guys home?
Dad: **crying**
Me: What happened?
Dad: Your mom passed.
Me: What happened???
Dad: Your mom passed!
Me: WHAT HAPPENED?!
Dad: YOUR MOM PASSED!

My first thought was "Oh my God, did they get into a car accident?" I seriously thought that was the cause. It wasn't.

My parents got home around 6:30. They got inside, my mom went to the bathroom and sat on the couch. She said she was feeling anxious (she started having panic attacks in October, before her diagnosis) and asked my dad for one of her anxiety pills. My dad gave her the pill, and was on his knees in front of her telling her "breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth" (my mom was a literal mouth-breather, which she didn't even realize until she was in treatment) and... she died. My dad said her right eye wandered independently of the other, and he called her name, and then... she died. Just died. Gone. Her cause of death is listed on her death certificate as cardiac arrest, COPD, and lung cancer. My mom died three hours after being released from the hospital.

My parents live in a very rural area. My dad called a neighbor who called 911 for him... The state troopers arrived about 30 minutes after my mom died. The paramedics arrived about 15 minutes after the cops. There was no way they could have saved her. The medical examiner arrived around 9 pm (there's only three or so in the whole state, and the one who came happened to be about 50 miles away when the cops called her) and declared her death.

A part of me died on January 11, 2019. I shut myself in the bathroom and cried and screamed. I don't know how long I was in there. I came out and my husband was on the phone with his mom giving them the news. I too have anxiety issues and am prescribed diazepam (valium) for panic attacks. I had to take 3x my usual dose to be okay. Not that I was actually okay, or have been since. In my diazepam-induced calm, I finally framed pictures of my mom from my wedding and hung them on the wall in my living room. I spoke to family and friends and gave them the news. I cried. Alot. It's as if time stopped for me. Time stopped, but the world kept going. My world was forever altered but everything else kept on moving as if nothing had happened.

The next day, my husband and I went to my dad's house to be with him and find important paperwork. My dad came back with us and has been spending alot of time at our house since, which I am glad for. I hope he chooses to move closer to us, I don't like him being all alone in the middle of nowhere in the house he shared with his wife for over 30 years... the house where she died.

The next week I was grocery shopping. I tend to grocery shop in the mid-morning hours, and in my city, that's when alot of older people do their shopping also. I encountered a lot of well-meaning and kind older people who made small talk with me and asked me how I was. I appreciated their kindness, and really needed some at the time, specifically from older women because I had just lost my mom... but... every time someone asked me "how are you?" I had to fight the urge to shout "TERRIBLE, MY MOM DIED LAST WEEK!" I didn't want to lose it in the middle of the grocery store, and I didn't... but the memory of how that felt will stay with me for a long time.

I've been seeing my current therapist for about a year, so she and I have a good rapport and she is incredibly helpful. I had a session today in which she helped me recognize that my anger about everything else in my life (son's bio-dad, unorganized professors, random annoyance at hubby etc.,) wasn't really about all those things. I'm angry because I miss my mom. I'm angry that I can't talk to her about why I'm angry. I'm angry because I think her doctors screwed up by not giving her a brain MRI when she started complaining of memory issues, releasing her too early each time, and not realizing that she was in the process of DYING when they released her the final time, and by giving our family false hope when they probably knew how dire her situation was. But anger is a secondary emotion, not a primary emotion; it (usually) stems from another emotion.

I'm sad. And I'm lonely. The one person in the world who I want to talk to the most right now is dead. I'm angry because it's not fair. I know, I know, life's not fair. But I'm still mad about it. I lost my mom. I'm only 25. Despite having my sh*t together and being a productive member of society, a mom, a wife, a good student, I still feel like a child sometimes, especially now. I didn't realize how much I relied on my mom for emotional support, and I didn't realize how much I needed her until she was sick. I still need her. I am a daughter without a mother now, and it's awful. I feel so lost, and lonely, and sad, and angry. My mom and I had just reached the point in our lives in which our relationship was transforming from mother-daughter to friend and equal. I am robbed of the amazing friendship that could have been, and it's not fair. I won't have that. I won't be able to call her for advice about how to handle a teenager or discuss my educational and career decisions and goals with her. I love my dad, don't get me wrong, but he's not her. My mom was the person who I went to for pretty much everything. Had a bad day? Call mom. Need a recipe? Call mom. Hubby or friend pissed me off and I just need to vent? Call mom. I can't have that anymore and it's breaking me.

I've been heavily relying on cliches to get through, especially when people ask me how I am or ask me how my dad is. "She's not suffering anymore," "she's not in pain anymore," "At least she didn't suffer longer," "Just taking it day by day," "We're okay, considering." I kind of hate it, but I also believe that she isn't suffering anymore and that's definitely a good thing. My mom was in a lot of pain the last few weeks of her life after the cancer had metastasized to her spine and femur.

I'm doing the bare minimum here. I turn my homework in late or just before the deadline. I leave dishes in the sink for days before loading the dishwasher and doing them. I get my son to school a couple minutes late almost every day because I don't sleep well and wake up late, which makes me feel like a terrible mother. In addition to anxiety disorder, I also have depression. I know my triggers and I know my symptoms. I am exhibiting my depression symptoms, but definitely to a lesser degree than when I was not medicated. But that also scares me because my meds worked for so long at the dosage I take, and whenever I take a higher dosage of my antidepressant, it makes my anxiety worse. SSRIs and SNRIs don't work for me, so I take 150mg bupropion xl and 15mg buspirone daily. The extended-release form of bupropion only comes in 150mg and 300mg and the 300 is too much for me.

Basically, I'm a mess. But I'm trying. But I'm scared that no matter how hard I try I won't be okay. I just want to be okay so badly, and I'm not...

Thanks for reading...

S